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Tone it down, please

Friday, Apr 11, 2014

* You may have read this advertorial yesterday

Uber’s lies and deception over the last month are an affront to Representative Zalewski and the entire General Assembly. Uber’s representatives, including their Worldwide Director of Policy, participated in lengthy negotiations. Uber, in writing, requested 13 changes to HB 4075.

All 13 changes have been addressed.

Eight changes were fully accepted.

Four changes were addressed through a part-time / full-time compromise for drivers.

The final change was negotiated by Uber, the Illinois Insurance Association and Illinois Trial Lawyers Association.

We were under the impression from the negotiations that the deal would be acceptable to Uber.

* Uber did, indeed, get just about everything it wanted in those negotiations. But it’s now hyperventilating to the media after the House passed the negotiated bill. Sun-Times

The Illinois House voted 80-26 on a proposal that would require all ridesharing companies to conduct driver background checks, safety training and have commercial liability insurance. Ridesharing drivers would be restricted from using taxi loading zones. Those drivers logging more than 18 hours would need registration plates, a chauffer’s license, and vehicle safety inspections.

Ridesharing companies would still be allowed to use price surging, or raising prices in times of high demand. […]

“The passage of HB4075 in its current form destroys thousands of jobs in Chicago, slashes income opportunities for Chicago’s rideshare drivers, and effectively shuts down uberX in Chicago,” said Andrew Macdonald, Uber Chicago general manager, in a prepared statement.

“Today is a win for the corporate taxi special interests and a loss for the thousands of Uber users in Chicago who banded together in short order to save ridesharing in Illinois and were effectively ignored,” he said.

…Adding… Rep. Mike Zalewski and the cab companies are right about this point

Zalewski told WBEZ that Uber’s lobbyist in Springfield, attorney Michael Kasper, supported the idea of bifurcating drivers into different regulatory categories depending on how much time they work. “I can only negotiate with who Uber tells me to negotiate with,” he said, “and their representatives were willing to negotiate on this point.”

But almost immediately after the bill passed, Uber denied that it was consulted in the crafting of the bill. “Uber has not signed off on a proposal that bifurcates drivers,” said Andrew MacDonald, Regional General Manager of Uber Midwest. Lyft issued a similar statement: “Bifurcating drivers into two groups was not a compromise and we did not support this model in conversations with the bill sponsors.”

“That’s an outright lie,” said Pat Corrigan, a Principal at Yellow Group and representative of the Illinois Transportation Trade Association, which includes nearly all of Chicago’s taxi companies. “We talked to Uber representatives, including Michael Kasper, their lobbyist, over the weekend in an attempt to understand how we could satisfy their wishes.” Kasper did not respond to an e-mail by posting time.

* Look, bills are never perfect. And the ride sharing companies could still ask for changes in the Illinois Senate. But it’s not a bad deal at all and that hyperbole from Uber just looks like crazy talk.

But it’s to be expected, I suppose.

* From an Inc. profile of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick

[Uber] also has an aggressive culture and growth strategy set by a CEO who is so headstrong, so enthusiastic, and so combative in defense of his big idea that he is at risk of seeming like a parody of today’s tech entrepreneur–up to and including having a thing for Ayn Rand. You hear a lot about tech companies shaking up staid industries, pushing past slow, complacent competitors. This is the next phase. This is Silicon Valley’s cult of disruption taking on city hall. […]

When quiet negotiations with city officials don’t seem to be getting him anywhere, he has a tendency to lash out, often by implying that the people standing in his way are corrupt. […]

Kalanick does his part to bait his critics. He can be at times comically grandiose and un-self-aware. When I ask him why he left angel investing (which he was doing after selling Red Swoosh) to run Uber, his rambling, five-minute answer includes two hyperbolic claims, a mixed metaphor (”It’s so complex all you can do is swim in uncertainty”), childish whimsy (”that is my happy place”), and, believe it or not, an unironic Braveheart reference.

“That’s part of me, that freedom fighter in me,” he says. “It’s like Brave­heart. Like, ‘freeeeeduuuuuuuuum.’ ”

I strongly defended Uber last month when the taxi companies came after it. Their original bill was grotesque. This bill is far from that.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Mason born - Friday, Apr 11, 14 @ 11:43 am:

    Seems like a case of “quit while your ahead.”

  2. - Anon - Friday, Apr 11, 14 @ 11:46 am:

    Of course Uber got what it wanted from the city:

    Fast-growing Uber hiring 150 people, moving Chicago office

    By: Ryan Ori March 06, 2014

    But my guess is they will want more. Much, much more.

  3. - A guy... - Friday, Apr 11, 14 @ 12:58 pm:

    Hope this works out. Uber is great. Their presence will improve regular cab service in all areas of the city. If your only experience is going from Downtown to the Airport and back, the regular cab companies are perfect. After that, it slides steeply.

  4. - Walker - Friday, Apr 11, 14 @ 1:03 pm:

    For any Rep to publicly demand an apology, via an ad by them or their allies, punks him or her.

    Should I be buying an “apology ad” for my favorite Rep whenever I think they were treated in negotiation?

    That’s a weekly thing in the big league.

  5. - 100 Miles West - Friday, Apr 11, 14 @ 1:38 pm:

    I wonder about Kalanick comparing himself to “Braveheart”. Didn’t he see the end of the film?

  6. - CLJ - Friday, Apr 11, 14 @ 2:58 pm:

    In legislative negotiations there are talks and then there are the details in writing. How much time was there when the amendment was filed and when it was vote on? Hmm…

  7. - horse w/ no name - Friday, Apr 11, 14 @ 3:00 pm:

    Kasper is as professional as they come. Clearly his newest client did him a disservice by negotiating out of one side of its mouth and popping off out of the other. Maybe that crap works elsewhere but not here.

  8. - Upon Further Review - Friday, Apr 11, 14 @ 3:27 pm:

    Is there a ceiling on taxi cab medallions in Chicago that prevents Uber from applying for the appropriate licenses?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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